Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum

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Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 18” x 20” x 2” 2019


The architecture in this painting was influenced by the Skånelaholm Castle of Sweden built in 1639-1643, with thanks to its current owners for emailing me additional reference photos. While the castle originally reflected the Dutch-German Late Renaissance style, in 1890 the vibrant stucco facade and ornamentation were added, reminiscent of Rococo styles in the Baroque, with scrolling curves and pastel tones. I took artistic license incorporating a Gothic rose window from the Duomo Cathedral I visited during a trip to Milan.


When my brother first saw the painting it reminded him of Doctor Strange’s residence, called the Sanctum Sanctorum, and this later inspired the title. A closer look through the window reveals the magical unicorn of the sea, the Narwhal. The surreal existence of a castle in the canyons is meant to evoke an otherworldly feeling, with the elusive Narwhal who usually swims in the ice-cold depths of the arctic. Water fissures foreshadow the potential breach of this mansion aquarium, symbolic of the threat from poachers who procure the Narwhal tusk coveted by collectors for its presumed magical powers.


Before Skånelaholm Castle was erected, the land had been used as a convent for nuns who dedicated their lives to God. So too, the Narwhal quietly brings honour to its Creator by its peaceful life in the ocean. As the Psalmist penned more than two thousand years ago, “Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths” (Ps. 148:7).